by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 6 August 2006)
Last weekend President Jagdeo asked his supporters to give him and his party another chance to revamp the Guyana Police Force and introduce necessary reforms to the nation's judicial system.
This is a reasonable request from any president at the end of a term and should be given the same amount of consideration as any other party on the list. It would most certainly be wrong of us to simply mark off the PPP without first deliberating the pros and cons of re-electing the ruling party.
At the request of the President, we are obliged to use the nation's crime situation and the judiciary system as a factor by which we decide whether Jagdeo and his party should be given another chance. And so we shall.
I have always believed that if you want to see the full capacity of a political party, the best time to observe them is the year prior to an election. It is during this crucial time that political parties carry out remarkable feats in an attempt to win votes.
Election money will be tossed in various directions to garner the waning support of disillusioned voters. Long ignored issues will be attentively addressed to re-engage the disconnected constituency. And each party will put their best and brightest to the forefront of the campaign with hopes of convincing the public of their sincerity and capability.
Which is why the bright and charismatic Jagdeo was front and centre at the PPP's campaign rally trying to convince the people of Guyana that his party did indeed care about their daughters who are being raped and their sons who are being killed.
As to whether the PPP should be given another chance to prove it is willing and capable of protecting the citizens, I am not too sure this would be a wise move. Since the PPP has had so many years to do something about the constant onslaught of crime and has not yet been able to make any significant advancement, I have serious doubts about its ability to take care of this problem at all.
In the past year, which has been an election year, the nation has seen some of the most horrendous criminal acts. The have been sporadic crime sprees on public places in broad daylight. There have been political and business figures gunned down with no one ever held accountable for the crime. And a massacre of innocent people in Agricola sent chills throughout the entire country.
The ruling party was either unable or unwilling to do anything at all about these heinous crimes. Even more, when some girls came forward and said they were forced to conduct sexual acts on certain well-connected young men, the party's Minister of Human Services and Social Security treated the situation with disregard.
Shady business practices overshadow government contracts, drugs are being planted in the luggage of unsuspecting travellers and each day brings even more stories of murder, rape and thievery.
One cannot help but question what, in this election year, has the PPP done to protect the citizens of Guyana? Better yet, what has the PPP not done in this election year to protect Guyanese?
If the ruling party is putting its best foot forward on this particular problem for the election and still falling so short in accomplishing its task, then what can it possibly expect to offer the nation if it is re-elected for another term?
Realistically, I cannot help but believe that what Guyana has seen in the last year by way of crime and a yo-yo judicial system is precisely what should be expected for the next five years if the people do indeed indulge Jagdeo by giving the PPP another chance.
I really do try to believe the best of people. In this situation I would love to believe that Jagdeo is willing and capable of combating crime. However, there is a fine line between having a generous spirit and being gullible and I think it would be completely naïve for even one person to believe the PPP is going to perform any better in the next five years than it has in the last year – or in the last 14 years.